Get The Gardening Glow

 

With almost 67 per cent of Australians living in our capital cities, we’re one of the most highly urbanised countries in the world. Considering the day-to-day stresses or urban living, traffic, overcrowding and simply not enough time – this means up to 16 million of us could benefit from the physical and mental advantages provided by gardening.

Whether it’s a sprawling veggie patch in the backyard, a flowerbed in a small courtyard, a window box or even a community garden space, almost anyone can achieve a gardening glow. 

Gardening is a great workout, It not only works all those major muscle groups, it burns calories as well. Also, gardening improves the mood almost instantly, so it’s fantastic for the soul.

The Fitness Factor

Forget about working hard in the gym or building up a sweat on the treadmill, gardening is just as good as a workout, if not better. Prolonged light exercise such as gardening can burn more calories than a gym session, despite being much easier to do.

Stress Relief

Gardening can increase life satisfaction, reduce and promote recovery from stress, enhance self-esteem and reduce feelings of depression and fatigue. Ask any gardener and almost all will insist that they feel better after getting their hands dirty in the soil. An activity like gardening gives you something to celebrate and care about. When you’ve tended and grown something it gives you a sense of purpose and pride, which in turn make you feel good about yourself.

Mood Enchasing

Having flowers in and around your home not only looks beautiful, they also have amazing health benefits, such as reducing stress and depression. Flowers increase positive energies and soothe and relax the soul. Plants in the home also increase energy levels and vitality. 

Immunity Boost

We often avoid getting our hands dirty but there are health benefits to be gained from exposure to soil. We need to be 100 per cent hygienic but we don’t need to be 100 per cent dirt or germ-free because our immune system needs something to spar with.

Air Quality

Plants have been shown to absorb and degrade all types of urban air pollutants, thereby reducing air pollutants, thereby reducing air pollution levels. We have a vital need for constant connections with plants for cleaner air, so gardening time is vital. Spending just 15 to 20 minutes each day in the garden can also improve sleep quality because breathing fresh air stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system in the brain, which is responsible for relaxation.

 

Do You Feel Grounded?

 

Connecting you bare skin to the ground is known as Earthing and Grounding, and any connection you have to the ground with your bare skin counts.

Regularly connecting to the earth’s natural, powerful energy is now known to be healing and vital. With busy lifestyles, jobs, families, errands and chores to do, we find ourselves spending very little time outside and even less time focusing on ourselves.

There are many ways to create a groundling link between yourself and the earth, but my favourite being the healing combination of plants and dirt.

If you’re already gardening, good for you! If you’re not then maybe you will be inspired. There are plenty of sensible ways you can improve your health by connecting to a more natural way of life.

Gardening Benefits:

  • You’ll find that in gardening, you’ll feel calmer, more relaxed and put together.

  • Able to release the electrical charge and free radicals we carry around with us all day just by digging around in the dirt.

  • Looking and being with nature reduces stress and promotes calmness.

  • Interaction with nature, familiar sights, sounds, different textures and smells provide a multi-sesnory experience that heals the mind.

  • Grow your own food and herbs and your likely to make better food choices and eat more fresh produce.

  • Gardening may just be one way to achieve your daily exercise and help keep those hand muscles vigorous and agile.

  • Achieve a healthy dose of vitamin D, there’s no place like the garden in the early morning.

  • Houseplants and indoor gardens help clean the air we breath indoors by removing household toxins found in furniture and building materials.

  • You’ll be able to admire and enjoy the fruits of your labour and beautiful gardens so they can be enjoyed with family and friends.

Everyone can benefit from taking a moment to focus on themselves and their connection with the Earth – and you don’t even have to be outside to do it.

 

Tools For The Urban Gardener

 

In these modern gardening times there is quite literally a device for every gardening function imaginable. With such a range available, it’s no wonder collecting gardening tools can border on addiction. The same could be said for the indoor garden, the only difference is you won’t need to install a tool shed to house all those addictive tools, a small basket should do the job.

There are only a few implements that are actually necessary when working in the urban or indoor garden, often coming down to personal choice or even adapting the odd household item for the task (trust me I’ve been known to have used a serving soon to move potting mix around).

So here are my “go to” or “must” have tools that I would suggest any novice gardener to invest in.

A fork of some kind is essential. The old two-prong kitchen variety is quite suitable but the prongs should be slightly blunted. This is a great tool, used to keep the top soil open, preventing soil compaction, allowing the passage of water and air to the roots.

A small trowel or garden scoop is necessary for filling troughs and other containers and a potting stick or dibble can also be used to make the appropriate size holes when planting all but the largest plants.

The selection of gardening tools should also include either a modern pruning knife or a small sharp secateurs that can be used for pruning and cutting, with the latter being my personal preference to snip off dead or withered leaves.

A finely nozzle spraying can, which can be used to spray the leaves of your plants (reducing cleaning) and also a great way to fertilise or spray pesticide on your indoor plants.

A watering can with a long narrow spout is also the best watering utensil because the flow can be directed beneath the foliage and away from the vulnerable crown of the plant, you can find some efficient watering cans that have a removable rose so you have both watering options. May I also suggest keeping the water at room temperature which can be most easily obtained by keeping a full can in the room.

Many other articles can be added as they are found desirable and could include a sieve for sifting soil for small pots, plant labels, twine, canes and stakes and gardening gloves or lined rubber gloves.

And as previously suggested if a garden tool basket can be obtained to hold all these gardening tools it will make for tidiness and save time. There is nothing more infuriating than having to search for a tool that is required for a certain trivial job at a certain moment.

 

Terrarium Basics

 

Terrariums are literary a collection of small plants grown in a sealed transparent container creating an environment like a mini ecosystem. They are a great way to add life to your space if you lack the free time or the “green thumb” to care for a bounty of houseplants.

They are known as the ultimate, low-maintenance indoor garden and can make it possible to grow things in places that aren’t exactly conducive to growth, and can pretty much be self-sufficient aside from the occasional misting or watering.

There are two general types of terrariums: open “Desertariums” and enclosed. It’s important to pick your plants based on the style of your terrarium if you want them to thrive. An open terrarium provides ample air circulation and lower levels of humidity. It is perfect for plants that thrive in a drier environment, like succulents, cacti and air plants.

Different plants require different amounts of care and it’s important to match your plants together by determining if they can be grown together e.g. humidity loving plants that require low light or plants that can be found in dry environments in full sun.

Another great thing about terrariums is your plants are not going to die overnight if your forget to water them. Closed terrariums should be self sufficient with very little water required. Water your closed terrarium every few weeks so the humidity level remain substantial.

Open terrariums will require weekly watering if you plan on housing tropical plants. If you open terrarium is home to desert like plants then a good drink once a month will be sufficient but make sure you don’t over water as succulents do not enjoy wet feet.

If gardening is your favourite way to recharge your creativity don’t let a small space cramp your style and if your new at this and refer to yourself as a brown thumb, don’t be disheartened because the best way of learning is sometimes with trial and error and your almost cannot go wrong with a terrarium if you get the main steps right.

 

Harvest Your Own Rose Tea

The simple ritual of sharing a cup of tea brings people together in a way that restores body mind and spirit. There is something beautiful about tea, the scent, the dried herbs and flowers, and of course the taste. But have you ever attempted to make your own blend.

I wanted to create an invigorating tea using rose petals, after all it’s the start of rose season and we soon will have roses in abundance, so why not enjoy them once they have bloomed.

The important thing to note when making your own tea is to be sure that all your ingredients are safe for consumption. You could dry your own roses if you like. Just be sure they have not been sprayed with any type of insecticide or chemical. If you don’t have insecticide free roses this season, bring on a couple of your most fragrant varieties for next year and use organic protection methods to make them available for culinary use.

Blown blooms (fully mature flowers) that haven’t browned will make the most flavorful tea petals. The most fragrant rose varieties typically make the best tea.

Although you can use any color of rose, you may find that sticking with a single color or color range makes the most visually appealing tea. (It does make a lovely gift.)

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

2 cups fresh rose petals

2 vanilla pods

PREPARE YOUR INGREDIENTS:

1. You will first need to dry out your Rose Petals and toast your Vanilla pods. Rose petals dry quickly if you’re using a heat source, so watch them closely to make sure they don’t scorch. They should be “shatter” dry, but not brown. In an oven, they just take 30 min to dry completely (in a single layer).

2. Split your Vanilla pods and then add them on the same tray your drying out your rose petals so that they are also slightly toasted in the oven.

3. Once your Vanilla beans have been toasted and cooled roughly chop them and add them to a small glass container along with your dried rose petals, give them a good shake so they are all mixed in together, and your new tea blend is now ready to be brewed or gifted.

BREWING YOUR TEA

1. Measure the desired amount of your tea blend and place into a teapot or teacup. Use 1 tsp of tea for every 1 cup of water.

2. Add enough hot water at 90°c (just before reaching boiling) to submerse the tea.

3. Let the tea steep for 2-3 minutes for the first and then 4-5 minutes on the second brewing.

Note: Adding sugar or honey is optional. You can make rose-scented sugar to accompany the rose-scented tea.